Northern Insight talk to the renowned water-colour painter, Mary Ann Rogers.
Did you always want to pursue a career in Art?
I never really thought about painting as a job when I was a child, it was simply something I did, part of my everyday life. Career wise, I never really had any clear ambitions, which is possibly why I only had mediocre results for my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels!
Tell us about your career path so far?
It feels like a brief, white knuckle ride, but its only when I stop and count the years that I realise how long the journey has been so far!
Although a lot has changed in the world of art and how people look at and buy art, I continue to exhibit both original paintings and prints in a handful of carefully chosen galleries up and down the UK as well as overseas.
One of the biggest changes has been the advent of the internet. I was an early adopter, and had my first website in the early 90’s. I have always applied the same energy and integrity to the business side of things that I do to the actual painting, otherwise one or other would suffer.
Highlights of my career have included meeting some amazing people and hearing how they have been touched by my work. Receiving the ‘Best Selling Published Artist’ award was great, but being the first female, self-publishing artist to do so was an especially big deal for me.
The building of my studio, which is attached to my home, was a massive achievement, and having the process filmed for a Discovery Channel design programme was a big moment!
What are you currently working on?
Im working on a big painting of hares racing around the field, something I see at this time of year. Im also working on paintings of the sheep, painted directly from the field behind my studio.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I enjoy everything about painting. I use watercolour, which is an absolutely thrilling medium. Something quite magical takes place between the intense pigment and the water on the pure white 100% cotton paper I use, which is never the same twice. In some ways, the less ‘controlling’ I am, the more exciting things take place. Anyone with a certain amount of skill can reproduce accurately what they see in front of them, but if you allow the pigment and water to take on a life of their own, an alchemy takes place which can be coaxed into something beautiful which can become part of a finished painting.
What is the most challenging aspect?
Every day is a challenge. There are always partcompleted paintings, new ideas to develop and major distractions. Focussing on the important things depends on what is important!
Who are your heroes in and out of world of Art?
Most of my heroes are people like Sir Edmund Hillary, Roald Amundsen, Anatoli Boukreev and Ernest Shackleton. I’m an armchair explorer and avidly read about climbers and explorers who have achieved extraordinary feats of endurance in appalling conditions.
Art heroes are less easy to identify as I know very little about most artists’ lives. I find the life and work of Frida Kahlo fascinating. Other artists whose homes and studios I have visited include Stanley Spencer and Sir Edmund Munnings. Both artists left me with a great sense of admiration, and some of their paintings have stayed with me in my memory for many years.
How do you see the world of Art evolving in the next 5-10 years?
Given that the ‘World of Art’ has changed more in the last 20 years than in the previous 200 in my opinion, I can only imagine that the pace of change will continue. The internet has been responsible for immense change. Artists are no longer isolated from the public, and kept at arm’s length from art collectors by the galleries. Nowadays, most artists engage directly with the public via social media etc, and sell work directly through their own websites and actual galleries. Original artwork is frequently bought without even being actually seen, which would have been unheard of 20 or 30 years ago. Nothing can replace the experience of standing in front of an original piece of art, made by a real person, so I would expect and hope that there will still be art galleries on high streets selling art.
How do you like to unwind?
As a rather ‘driven’ person, I tend to work hard and play hard, so when Im not working, I am probably either riding or competing one of my horses, hill walking, or swimming. I am a lifelong wildswimmer, and have recently taken up open water swimming, with some long distance swims planned for this year which I am training for. The River Rede and North Tyne nearby have several lovely deep stretches for swimming, I also enjoy organised open water swimming at Sweethope Lough nearby, where fellow enthusiasts enjoy long evening swims on this beautiful lake, surrounded by trees, wind turbines and open moorland. I also like watching grim crime dramas on my iPad!